Israel readies itself for Iran move

One of my most trusted sources of naval intelligence, a veritable 21st century Stephen Maturin — and no, I can’t just come out and tell you his name; that would be indiscreet — brings to my attention this Reuters item:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli submarine sailed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea as part of a naval drill last month, defense sources said on Friday, describing the unusual maneuver as a show of strategic reach in the face of Iran.

Israel long kept its three Dolphin-class submarines, which are widely assumed to carry nuclear missiles, away from Suez so as not to expose them to the gaze of Egyptian harbormasters.

It was unclear when last month the vessel left the Mediterranean. One source said the voyage was planned for months and so was not related to unrest after the June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom the Israelis see as promoting the pursuit of nuclear weapons to threaten them.

Sailing to the Gulf without using Suez would oblige the diesel-fueled Israeli submarines, normally based in the Mediterranean, to circumnavigate Africa — a weeks-long voyage. That would have limited use in signaling Israel’s readiness to retaliate should it ever come under an Iranian nuclear attack….

Egyptian officials at Suez said they would neither confirm nor deny reports regarding military movements. One official said that if there was such a passage by Israelis in the canal, it would not be problematic as Egypt and Israel are not at war….

So let’s see — maybe Israel has nukes, and maybe not (officially, that is). And maybe their missiles can reach Iran from the Med, and maybe they can’t. But in case they can’t, one just took the shortcut to the Red Sea. And the Egyptians watched them do it. Or maybe they didn’t; they’re not saying…

Israel is making sure its pieces are in the proper places on the chessboard, in case Iran decides to go beyond bluster and make a move. And who wouldn’t, if they had (or didn’t have; they’re not saying) the pieces to move?

10 thoughts on “Israel readies itself for Iran move

  1. Brad Warthen

    And why, do you wonder, do I take breaks in writing about SC politics to take note of stuff like this?

    Because I am fascinated by stuff like this that is really important, but little-noticed. While we go on and on about Michael Jackson or whatever.

    My aforementioned intel source knows how interested I am in stuff like this, which is why he brings them to my attention. Plus I think he, like I, maybe read Hunt for Red October once or twice too often. (One ping only, Vasily…)

    I wonder why my source Mandy at Jane’s didn’t tell me about this? Speaking of Mandy, when I cited her report about Syrian WMD, I did it within the context of saying HERE’S an important thing we’re ignoring while we’re prattling about what Michael Phelps is smoking…

    So there’s a certain consistency to my use of these items…

  2. Lee Muller

    Last summer, I posted on your old blog that this would happen if Obama were elected. His pro-Muslim attitude and his apologizing for Iran leave Israel no choice but to strike the Iranian nuclear weapons facilities, just as they struck Pakistan before, and would have had to strike Iraq if the US coalition forces had not neutralized that weapons program when they did.

    Saudi Arabia said last week they would not interfere with Israeli warplanes passing through their airspace on the way to Iran.

  3. SGMret

    It’s “really important” and “little noticed….” duuhhh…

    Yea, it’s all of that and then some. Frankly, most folks in the US need to get their heads out of the sand and pay attention to the reality around them.

    While all those people were cryin’ buckets for MJ, the headlines in the local newspapers on the crumbly edge of the world were all about Joe Biden’s telling Israel it’s OK to bomb Iran.

    And for all of the Joe Biden fans out there, don’t bother defending him. It simply doesn’t matter what he actually said or that his comments were taken out of context or that he’s just an idiot when it comes to speaking in public. What matters is that for much of the rest of the world, it looks like the Obama administration is backing (maybe even encouraging) Israel in an attack on Iran.

    Brad, you need to pay more attention to your NCIS buddy and less to Miss SC. And forget Janes: Start reading Stratfor.

  4. phillip

    Brad’s key phrase was “Israel is making sure its pieces are in the proper places on the chessboard, in case Iran decides to go beyond bluster and make a move.” And Biden’s words were carefully calculated, I think. (Biden’s image as a “loose-lips” guy made him the perfect choice to send that signal, which sends the Iranian government just enough of a mixed signal to make them nervously unsure just what the West, Israel, and America, would do.)

    Anybody noticed that America’s shift from the “bull-in-a-china-shop” approach to foreign policy towards a policy of intelligence, deftness, subtlety etc. has coincided with the most clear signs of serious divisions within the Iranian power structure and the first signs of massive dissent within the population towards that governing structure?

    As Brad points out, this is a positioning move by Israel. It’s a tactical move, one of many to come long before it ever gets to an actual strike scenario.

  5. Lee Muller

    How laughable that the Obama team is operating with “ntelligence, deftness, subtlety, etc”!!

    Obama has no experience negotiating anything. His team consists of the Clinton retreads who created the mess in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Most of his advisors are academics with no experience, or big donors.

    President Bush built a coalition of 38 nations supplying military forces to defeat terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    All Obama has done is signal that he wants to give it all back.

  6. SGMret

    Well, as for operating with “intelligence, deftness, and subtlety,” if the goal of the administration’s efforts are to capitalize on the “clear signs of… divisions within the Iranian power structure and signs of… dissent within the population,” they sure have chosen the worst possible message to send in the worst possible way.

    The one sure thing to coalesce the Arabs and Iranians is Israeli military power or threats of its use. From the man on the street to the government controlled media, just about everyone here in the Gulf region is “spitin’ mad.” And don’t just take my word, you can now watch Al Jazzera on cable in the US.

    The Saudis are the only Arab government to say publicly that they would not try to stop the Israelis from over flying their airspace. The Saudis, as the guardians of Mecca and Medina, the Holy sites, have already pissed off a lot of the locals anyways. Keep in mind, one of the underlying grievances that AQ has is the fact that infidels (that would be us, as in the US) are occupying Holy lands. This is just about as offensive to most of them as the Israelis occupying Jerusalem. The Saudis are no friends of the US; they are using us to protect themselves from the Iranians and as a “straw man” to deflect criticism from their own population for their own internal problems. AQ attacks US interests around the world because it cannot strike at the Saudis in Saudi Arabia.

    Perceived US support for Israel’s “tactical” move and posturing are only inflaming already deep seated resentments and the belief that the true goal of any US foreign policy in the Middle East is to benefit Israel at the expense of the Arabs.

    The Obama administration needs to work on that whole foreign policy thing that you seem so impressed with, Phillip. They’re falling into the trap that too many people do, they believe that their opponents see things the same way they do. Superficiality is not the same as subtlety.

  7. Lee Muller

    Obama and his gang got this far on the only talent they have – BS.

    They think what worked with massive US media support will not flush overseas, unfiltered, much less through the filter of state-run Muslim press.

    Nobody believes the US is taking a “hands off” approach anywhere, so they can forget the policies of letting each region solve its own problems. If Israel is forced to defend itself because of US confusion and timidity, everyone will think they were acting with our approval and support.

  8. Mike Toreno

    SGMRet, what the Obama Administration is doing with respect to Israel, while not great, is still much better than the Bush Administration would have done. Biden’s foolish remarks don’t reflect any special characteristic of Biden, or the administration, but are simply a reflection of the pro-Israel orthodoxy that prevails in Washington. The natural tendency is to endorse everything Israel does, to take at face value Israel’s pronouncements that every aggressive action it takes is in self defense, and sacrifice US interests to shield Israel from the consequences of its actions.

    Some of the stuff Obama has been doing is actually pretty good, and reflects a perception that Israel is a foreign country whose interests are not inevitably bound up with ours. Taken in light of how pervasive the Washington pro-Israel orthodoxy is, any resistance to it is astonishing.

    Your analysis of the situation is sound, and being better than before isn’t enough, they need to view the situation accurately and act with honor toward everyone in the region. An attack on Iran would be a calamity for the United States, and it’s incumbent on Obama to put the interests of the United States first and not let Israel, whose relationship with us should be that of a vassal state, demand our support for a course of action that would be a disaster for us.

  9. Lee Muller

    So, Mikey, do you think Obama should order the USAF to bomb Iran’s nuclear plant?

    If not, how is he going to stop them Iran and North Korea from finishing their joint nuclear weapons projects and arming more terrorists?

  10. SGMret

    We have a saying in my business: Perception is reality. It doesn’t matter how innocent or nefarious your actual motives are. The only thing that matters is how your opposition perceives what ever it is that he thinks he sees.

    The same is a sound principle for diplomatic activities. Unfortunately, the US hasn’t had a Chief Executive or Secretary of State in a generation that understands that principle deeper than the most superficial level.

    Professional politicians fall far too often to their own egos and start believing their own pander. It’s too bad that once again all we have in the White House and Foggy Bottom are professional politicians.


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